The kitchen floor is in!
Since the kitchen isn’t super large, it went quite quickly. We pulled the fridge out first, tiled behind it, and then moved it onto the new tile and continued to tile from there, which worked well.
So now the flooring matches through the house! It really makes everything look more cohesive.
We still need to put in the trim in the kitchen and dining room, and now that we’re done with the other jobs in both rooms we’ll probably tackle that in the next few days.
I finally hemmed the curtains for the dining room window, and I’m quite pleased with how they look.
They’re definitely very neutral, but I think that’s working for me.
I had them hanging out in the guest room prior to hemming them, and they actually looked quite good in there, too.
I did a wide hem on the bottom to mimic that at the top, and I think it gives a nice finished look.
We devoted last weekend to redoing our kitchen countertops using the Rustoleum Countertop Transformations kit. We started out with the white-ish laminate counters that were here when we moved in.
They were in pretty decent shape, but had some areas where someone seemed to have repeatedly dropped a knife point-down, or something like that, and some aged coffee? stains (or maybe burns?) that no amount of bleach would get rid of. And since I repainted the cabinets, the counters looked even worse in comparison.
We started by cleaning the countertops as much as possible. I bought some Mr. Clean Magic Erasers in preparation for this step, but then forgot to use them. I feel like it was probably the cleanest it ever has been anyway. You can also see here that we have replaced the hardware in the kitchen and that it really brings out the metal tile backsplash. We didn’t plan it that way, but it worked out nicely.
K removed the top piece of the cooktop so we could get right up to the edge of the part that is set into the counter. We also turned off the gas so the pilot lights wouldn’t be lit.
The first step in the kit is to sand the existing countertop using a diamond sanding tool. As you can see, we dutifully wore our dust masks and nitrile gloves.
Then after the sanding, we cleaned all the dust and then taped off the areas that we didn’t want to be countertop. We opted to include the backsplash piece behind the cooktop area, even though it was made of a different material than the countertop. It had some scars, but sanded down just fine. I also covered the cooktop in paper as well as taping it off. The last thing I wanted was little chips melting inside the stove later on.
I also taped off the sink drains so that no pieces would get in there, either. I doubt they’d do a lot of harm, but they probably wouldn’t be good for the garbage disposal.
Then to the part where there’s no turning back: the base coat. This stuff is super thick, though not quite as thick as tar. It went on smoothly and didn’t stink like I feared it would.
It was gross enough that we just scrapped all the tools we used with it, though – this whole thing went in the trash as you see it here, since I didn’t feel like it would be worth the water and time it would take to try to clean it. I also wasn’t hot about the idea of this stuff going down the drain.
Then we sprayed with wetting solution and put the chips on. The kit comes with a device that looks and acts like a handheld seed spreader, with which you apply the chips. It sprays them out pretty aggressively, which made it pretty easy to get a thick, thick coat of them all over. The kit came with way more chips than we needed, but it covers a larger area of counter than we have. You can see here how many chips go on the floor. We ran out of paper so we didn’t get to cover the entire floor area surrounding the cupboards, and though it worked out fine, I would have been more worried had we already put down the new kitchen floor.
This pic is sort of an inside joke for those who’ve watched the instructional DVD that comes with the kit – the kit informs you that if you have any areas on the edge that need more chips, to use a jazz-hands-y flicking motion to apply them. We didn’t really have any of those spots, but K reenacted that part of the steps just for good measure. Also in this pic you can see the new blue clock I got for above the oven. It coordinates with the blue rug in the Pergo room, and I think it looks good. K has reserved judgment (his comment: “it’s blue.”).
So we had a thick coating of chips all over the counters, and then we waited overnight (12-24 hours). This color is called Charcoal, btw, and the chips are several different colors: black, white, and a couple shades of grey.
The following morning, we ate breks and then got right back into it.
You can see that there was indeed a thick layer of chips all over everything. Thank goodness we wisely anticipated this and closed the vent in the kitchen before starting. I can’t imagine if it had blown chips all over the place.
Then we vacuumed! There were drifts of chips all over since we applied the requisite very thick coating, so I used the shop vac to get as many off as possible before we sanded. It filled our small shop vac a few times over. The instructions say that if you don’t have a shop vac, that you can use a brush and dustpan instead. That would certainly work, but it would take FOREVER. Seriously, if you want to do this and don’t own a shop vac, go buy a cheapie just for this. You won’t regret it.
More sanding means more dust mask!
The instructions warn you that the sanding will make the countertop appear to be a lighter color than it will end up. True fact.
For the edges, you use a regular sanding block. You don’t have to sand very hard at all to get a smooth surface on the edges, so I did that part, while K used the diamond sanding tool for the main surface areas.
The diamond sanding tool did get some bits of chip-stuff stuck to it during the process, which the instructions warned could happen. The instructions say to just wipe it off, but it took a bit more effort than that to pry this stuff off. It would be nice if this kit came with two diamond sanding tools.
Then we wiped the dust off with damp cloths, revealing the smooth surface. There was a LOT of dust and this took quite a few passes before the counters were free of dust. Luckily we have a bunch of those white rags you can buy at the Despot. I would recommend having some of those highly, because even after repeated washings, some of the rags were still full of little particles of dust. After two rounds through the washing machine, I decided that it was okay to pitch those rags.
The instructions are clear that this level of smoothness is the same as it will be when it’s finished, and they give you a sample bit so you can feel to make sure your surface feels the same as the sample. The top coat is not a filler coat, so it’s important to get this part right.
Then we rolled on the final top coat. It went on pretty easily, too, and despite being a two-parter (like epoxy), it didn’t stink either! It actually smelled very mildly of bubble gum. Then we waited about 6 hours for it to mostly dry.
At this point you want it to be dry to the touch (not tacky) but you shouldn’t wait too long after it is dry to remove the tape. We also removed the plastic at this point – VERY CAREFULLY so none of the chips that were clinging to the plastic would jump up and stick to the counters.
As recommended, we used a putty knife to score the edge, and then carefully peeled the tape. Before this, we cleaned up as much of the residual chips as we could. I spent more time on my hands and knees shop vac-ing up chips than I anticipated. Some of that is likely due to my type A personality, but really, I didn’t want us tracking chips all over the house so I think it was worth it.
This pic isn’t really in focus, but you can see that we got a very neat edge next to the sink. We do need to caulk around the sink to be on the thorough side, but otherwise I think it looks great.
And that’s it! After 48 hours, we started using it for light use, meaning that we are only putting lightweight things down on it and haven’t yet re-installed the cooktop (which is heavier than 5 pounds, the threshold listed in the instructions). The kit recommends waiting 7 days before full use, so we’re waiting until then for heavy-duty stuff.
Still on the to-do list in here: finish painting the molding above the cabinets, lay the floor tile, put the drawers back in, and install the tip-out hinges and tray on the below-the-sink panel.
I’m very pleased with how this project turned out! I was skeptical at first, and after reading a lot of other bloggers’ accounts of how theirs went, I felt a little more confident, but it wasn’t until I saw ours done that I really felt like it was truly okay. It’s a little glossier than I’d probably choose, but the kit only comes in one level of sheen, so I decided to go with it. I think it looks way better than the white counters did, and it feels like a real upgrade. As a bonus, this counter now looks quite similar to the IKEA countertop we put on the new cabinets in the dining room, so it ties things together nicely.
The bathroom project has officially begun!
We finally decided to just paint the room the same off-white we’ve been painting everything else. We can always repaint it another color if we find one we like, and in the meantime it will look clean and fresh and if we end up selling, it’ll be the neutral that buyers theoretically prefer. The walls in here were terrible: marks where someone got a little too aggressive with a paper tiger, uneven seams on old drywall patches, and so forth. So we did some sanding and skim coating! I added that exclamation point to make it seem like it was exciting and fun. In reality: boring and tedious and messy. But we made some improvements and are keeping our fingers crossed that any remaining imperfections will blend into the lovely white paint job.
We put a first coat of primer up, and the room is looking better already! The peach shows through enough that we’ll do a second coat of primer before painting. Even though the Behr Premium Plus Ultra purports to be self-priming, we have learned that some colors are persistent enough to show through regardless. And since the two tester spots we did required three coats each and were still not quite covering completely, I’m willing to do two coats of primer to save coats of paint.
At this point, we are going to leave the vanity and just paint it, leaving the green countertop as the only big color in the room. We’ll see how it looks and how we feel about it, but I think it may be live-with-able.
Now that the dining room is almost done, we’ve been making steady progress on the kitchen!
The floor is patched where there were gaps between the old tiles, so it’ll be a nice smooth surface for the new tiles. All the cabinet doors have been removed and are being painted, and the cabinets have also been painted. Just when you’re minding your own business, documenting your DIY projects…
Meanwhile, almost everything from the kitchen cupboards is living on the guest room bed. I remember eating microwaved dinners on a card table in my folks’ bedroom when they were having their kitchen completely redone when I was in high school, but I have no recollection of where they stored all the STUFF from the kitchen. Maybe it was in the basement? Even the relatively small amount of stuff from our relatively small kitchen seems to take up a lot of space when it’s removed from the cupboards.
Glassware in the library! Removing all of this from the cupboard will be a good opportunity for us to pare down what we have at hand. We have more glasses than you can shake a stick at, and we generally use two, maybe three of them on a regular basis. They are pretty much all awesome collectible Star Wars/Star Trek/LOTR promotional glasses from fast food restaurants, so we’ll likely pack up the extras to keep for just in case.
Kitchen cupboard doors have taken over the Pergo room!
Here you can see that K put up the tile on the vertical step between the two rooms, so the last of the ugly goldenrod vinyl has now been hidden.
And now we have kitchen items back in the cupboards! Some of them, anyway. It’s been very interesting having to trek to the bedroom every time I need a fork or a meat thermometer while cooking meals.
And while we’re at it, here’s the new dining room cupboard all filled with goodies. Breadmaker, hand mixer, rice cooker, George Foreman, slow cooker, salad spinner, and microwave popcorn popper all tucked neatly away!
Last weekend, in between installing the dining room cabinets and their countertops, we also laid the tile for the entryway and into the hallway. We DIYed the crap out of that weekend! As of the last update on this area, we had pulled up the carpet to expose the hardwood and old vinyl.
This project went really quickly! Since we now have experience laying this kind of tile, it was easy to get into a rhythm. We also lucked out that the closet tiles needed almost no trimming and that we ended up with close to a half a tile on either side of the entryway.
K did such a tidy job cutting a tile to fit around the cables that come up through the floor!
At some point I went downstairs to give the dining room cabinet doors and drawer fronts another coat of paint.
Happy workers, each of us!
We didn’t technically have to put a threshold at the junction of the hardwood and the tile since it was pretty tidy, but the wood was pretty dry in this area and we noticed a couple of splinter-esque pieces that came free, so we thought better safe than sorry.
And everything is hooked back up again and all is right with the world. Well, except that the Despot ran out of edge threshold so we didn’t have it installed yet when this photo was taken (it has since been completed). As we were ready to move the TV stand back into place, I realized that the small red rug we had in the library might just be a perfect fit for under the TV. And it was! It’s just a wee bit longer than the stand, so it works quite well. We got these two matching rugs for our former house in Mount P, but didn’t have a need for them in the same space in this house. Until now! Which means a new rug is needed for the library. DIY is like playing dominos! There’s always a, “this means we’ll have to…” coming when you make any change. But I feel like this area is just about finished. We’ll replace the old light fixture in the doorway sooner than later. We also bought new weatherstripping for under the front door and just need to install it. Home stretch!
Last you might remember, we had installed the new tile in the dining room. Next we did some finishing touches (copious amounts of pics on my flickr) and got some base cabinets to install in the corner. We chose to buy unfinished cabinets since we were planning to paint them white anyway (to go with the kitchen cabinets) and getting the unfinished ones saved us some bucks. We managed, somehow, to make the final decision about which cabinets to get the same day that the Despot was finishing their 20% off in-stock cabinets sale. And we decided this at about 5pm. So we grabbed a quick dinner, looked online to see that our closest Despot had two cabinets in stock as well as a truck available for rental so we could haul them home, bought the cabinets, loaded the truck, brought them home, and returned the truck within an hour. It was like we had some Felix Felicis for supper! Then we spent the better part of a couple weeks sanding, priming, and painting the cabinets, doors, and drawer fronts. We have a really small set-up for painting the doors and such (just a couple sawhorses in the basement) so it took awhile to get everything done.
This weekend K had the whole weekend off, so Saturday morning we woke up early and got right to work. Here you can see the before shot of this area.
We did some careful measuring to figure out what we needed to cut out to accommodate the awkward little vent box in the corner. Luckily K measures things precisely for a living, so he’s really good at this. It was in the upper 40s, so we set up in the driveway so all the sawdust could stay outside. As you can see, these cabinets are definitely the basic, no-frills edition. They’re solid wood on the front, sides, and where needed for structural integrity, but the back of the cabinet is just laminated particle board. So chopping off part of it made me wary – I thought for sure we’d end up with a wibbly-wobbly off-kilter thing that we could never get to be quite square again.
But, lo and behold, it worked! We had to do a little trimming here and there to get it to fit exactly, since the vent cover box isn’t exactly square and the corner walls aren’t either. We were very pleased that we had all the tools on hand (jigsaw and keyhole saw being most important to this task).
Here you can see that the vent cover box comes out just a teensy bit farther on the side than this 24″ cabinet. This worked to our advantage, since the cabinet could rest on the box, but the sticky-outy bit of the box fit in between the two cabinets – no need to cut anything out of the right-hand cabinet.
Next we made the two cabinets into one unit. We used a piece of square trim to fill the space between the two, and then used bolts, washers, and nuts near top and bottom, back and front, to keep things secure.
There were actually some pre-drilled holes in the cabinets that we didn’t need to use for anything else, so we used them for the bolts. Hooray!
We put the unit into the corner and then worked to shim it up to level. No one wants a countertop that things roll off of! The floor here is definitely not level, so thank goodness we bought a whole packet of shims. We needed them! Once it was level, we used screws to fasten it to the wall. Not that it would probably be going anywhere, but we thought it wouldn’t hurt.
And there is it level! Just waiting for us to sleep on the decision of what to do for a countertop. (Also still waiting for the toe kick, which was drying from being painted, and for trim as is the rest of the room.)
So the next morning, despite it being the spring forward DST shift, we woke up nice and early and decided that the IKEA PRAGEL countertop was the right choice. Its finish is very close to what we will be doing in the kitchen, and the price was right. I posted in our neighborhood facebook group that we were looking for someone with a pick-up truck who might be willing to help us haul it home, and within 20 minutes had a volunteer. So we were able to pick it up that afternoon! Three cheers for nice neighbors! Here you can see K fitting it in to see how it looks. He had a few ideas for keeping the long end as a breakfast bar.
I was a little concerned about trimming the piece and having the laminate split or crack. Luckily the intarwebs was there to help! I found that a few people recommended using a 60-Tooth Carbide blade for the circular saw and claimed that it would cut through the countertop “like butter” and leave no burns or other marks. They weren’t lying! We took our daily second trip to the Despot and picked up a Diablo (!) blade for the saw. It worked really well and I definitely recommend it.
Then came the oh-so fun task of attaching the countertop to the cabinets. The cabinets came fitted with little plastic thingies in the corners so it was easy to mark and pre-drill the holes, but squeezing into the corners and retaining enough torque to get the screws to move was a real trick. K came up with the ingenious solution of using a ratchet, which worked well in a couple of the corners. All of the corners were too tight to use a drill. Also, we were able to use the same screws that we used to attach the cabinets to the wall, which was nice since we had to buy a box of a few hundred.
Hooray! K is so excited to not be cramped up inside the cabinet anymore! Also to have me pestering him to pose for photos! No really!
I think it looks really nice! I’m seriously pretty impressed with us for doing this project. We had gotten a couple of quotes to have a contractor do this, and it would have been at least $2000 for this project. I’m sure the quality of the materials would have been slightly or significantly superior, but it still would have been wooden cabinets, painted, with a laminate countertop. We did this ourselves for (including renting the truck and shelling out $20 for the special saw blade) less than $250. Aw yeah.
I’m excited to get the toe kick and trim installed. We’re still debating on whether or not to do any kind of backsplash over here. There’s only a tiny section of backsplash in the kitchen and it’s a metal tile thing that I’m not a huge fan of, so I don’t think I’d want to replicate it here.
We couldn’t wait to load it up! Now our countertop convection oven and microwave can live happily together here, and the cabinets will hold a variety of other small appliances that don’t need to be out all the time (slow cooker, mixer, etc). Please don’t be alarmed at the weird blueness of the world outside the window – I took this photo at night and had to amp up the exposure to get it to be less shadowy. So! This project gets a big thumbs up for success!
Late last week, I got a wild hair while K was at work one day and pulled up the carpet in the hallway. We were planning to do this anyway, but I just couldn’t wait until he was home and figured, why not?
It came up pretty easily, as it had in other areas of the house. I was happy to see that the hardwoods are in pretty good shape here, too (again, as they are in other areas of the house). There are some paint splatters that we can scrape up with a putty knife, though we’ll put a runner rug in the hallway so they wouldn’t be visible anyway. We weren’t sure where the hardwood border with the vinyl? flooring would be, and it’s at an interesting place. Luckily the border is in good shape, and we’ll likely want to put a threshold between the hardwood and the new tile anyway.
You can kind of see in this photo that the kitchen floor is slightly higher than the vinyl. There appears to be a layer of self-adhesive tile, a layer of sheet vinyl flooring, and a layer of subfloor on top of the original subfloor. Interesting!
This shows where I left off on the day that K was at work – I was not about to try moving the TV and all of the components by myself.
He arrived home when I was just about finished, and helped me with the last bits. Here is a tip for you: when you think you’ve pulled up all the carpet tacks and staples, run over the floor with a dry Swiffer. You’ll be able to feel any lingering bits that are sticking up so you can then get rid of them. Also, it picks up a lot of the dust/dirt/eww that is left even after shop-vac-ing.
Then on Sunday, we tackled the last bit of carpet. It’s almost gone!
And it’s gone! Hooray! The space feels a lot more open and cohesive now, even without the new tile being down yet. There were, of course, a few spots that needed patching to make an even surface for us to lay down the new tile, so that has to dry before we move on. All in all, I’m really pleased with how this has gone.
So now we need to decide about a runner and doormats. I’d like to put matching doormats throughout the house so that things will tie together, and might as well match the runner as well.
First we have the HESSUM from IKEA. The two images are not to scale – the runner is on the left and the doormat on the right.
Then we have the Mayan Sunset from JCP. It looks pretty much the same in both shapes. My thoughts so far: the HESSUM is neutral and according to reviews is really durable. The Mayan Sunset magically ties in colors from the two bedrooms and the library. The IKEA rugs are slightly less expensive than the JCP ones, but only by a few dollars. Thoughts?
Thanks to all who offered suggestions and ideas for the dining room light fixture. I did a little intarwebs research and decided that I wanted a semi-flush drum fixture. Luckily IKEA happened to have one that was perfect! So the other night after dinner we took down the fan fixture and put this one up. It was pretty quick and easy!
I really like the way this looks. It’s big enough to be appropriate for the room, but not so overpowering like the fan was.
This fixture uses three LED bulbs, which provide a nice warm light.
And it’s super bright compared to before! Granted, two of the four bulbs on the fan fixture were burned out and we hadn’t bothered to replace them, but still, this one is so much better. I also really like the way the round shape works with our round dining room table, especially since there are so many sharp angles in the space. I also got some new curtains, but I’m going to wait until we’re done putting up trim and other things like that before I hang and hem them.
The moment of truth is here: laying down the floor tile! This was our first time doing self-adhesive tiles, so we weren’t sure if it would be as easy as it looks. It turns out that it pretty much was.
We started off by finishing some last bits of paint. This is the totally profesh way we reached the corner above the stairs, btw: duct tape an old paint brush to the end of the extendable handle.
Hey, it worked!
We followed the tile instructions and calculated the center of the room. However, this left us needing teensy tiny bits on either side, and we wanted to avoid (a) more cuts than necessary and (b) having little bitty pieces on the edge where the room steps down into the fireplace room. So we slid things over just slightly so we could start with a full tile on the step side.
This means we didn’t follow the instructions exactly, as they want you to start with the center tile and work from there. But we figured that this way we would be exactly ON with the edge tiles, and since the room isn’t that big to begin with, we figured it would be okay. (Spoiler alert: it was.)
We continued from there in the prescribed stair-step fashion. Despite K’s expression above, it actually went really smoothly.
So much fun! (Not really. But not that bad. Pretty easy compared to a lot of the DIY projects we’ve done.)
Pretty soon we were almost halfway done!
We still need to tile the step up into the kitchen, where you can now see just how dingy the old flooring looks in comparison.
Just to recap, here’s the before picture:
And the after:
What a great transformation! The room is so much lighter and brighter now. And it feels cleaner. I mean, it IS cleaner, but the overall vibe of the room is just much tidier and more of a place you’d want to eat dinner. It took us about three hours to do all the tiling for this room. Not too shabby! One thing that kept us moving at a good pace is K’s ability to cut out the tricky bits around corners really efficiently. He’s just super good at that stuff.
Next we’ll work on the vent covers for the step between rooms, and put up a threshold corner thingie along the whole edge.
We need to put up trim again and a few other finishing details, but the room is really coming together! This leads me to my next item of business: the ceiling fan.
Before, I looked at it and thought, it’s not great but it’s not horrible, and ceiling fans are supposed to be selling points, right? But now I am feeling less and less like it should stay. It’s dated and nothing else in the room/house is that finish. We also never use the fan part, it hangs really low into the room, and it provides very little actual light. So, with what kind of fixture should we replace it? Anyone seen any cool ones? I’m also going to replace the curtains in here, since the old ones were super cheapies that have faded really badly and are now three or four distinct shades of green. Ideas for those welcome, too!